Several senators, including Sens. John Kerry (D-MA) and Dick Lugar (R-IN), Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, sent a letter to Budget Chairman Kent Conrad (D-ND) and Appropriations Ranking Member Judd Gregg (R-NH) in support of President Obama’s proposed $6.1 billion increase in the foreign operations budget, calling it “an essential component of our national security,” CQ Today reported.
With a record number of participants—83—the Alliance held its 10th annual Advocacy Day on Thursday, March 4. Alliance members participating in this year’s Advocacy Day visited 104 House and Senate offices and represented a record 26 states, as well as the District of Columbia.
(At right: Advocacy Day participant Ana Gil-Garcia, representing the Fulbright Association, with Illinois Senators Roland Burris and Dick Durbin.)
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testified at four separate Congressional hearings in the past two days to discuss the Department of State budget request for FY 2011. She appeared before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee for State and Foreign Operations and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee yesterday, and then in front of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and House Appropriations Subcommittee for State and Foreign Operations today.
The Obama administration’s FY 2011 budget, released on Monday, requested $58.5 billion for the entire international affairs budget (or 150 Account), representing a $6.1 billion (or 11.6 per cent) increase over total FY 2010 enacted international affairs spending. As the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition reports, nearly 60 per cent of this increase would go to “Frontline States,” including Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq, leaving a modest growth of $2.5 billion for all other international affairs programs. If enacted, the FY 2011 international affairs budget would be 2.8 per cent above actual FY 2010 amounts, including supplemental appropriations.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair John Kerry (D-MA) and Ranking Member Richard Lugar (R-IN) introduced on Friday the Foreign Relations Authorization Act for Fiscal Years 2010 and 2011 (see the full bill here). Described in a press release from Kerry and Lugar as “comprehensive bi-partisan legislation,” this authorization would “provide authority, policy guidance, and operational oversight to the State Department.”
Last night, the Senate rejected a complex amendment by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) to rescind $120 billion from the federal budget, including funding for exchange and international education programs. The amendment would have reduced funding for the Department of State’s Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program; the Defense Department’s National Security Education Program; the Department of Education’s Title VI and Fulbright Hays Programs; and the Office of International Science and Engineering at the National Science Foundation.
The full conference agreement for the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act for FY 2010 is now available for download on the House Appropriations Committee website. The below chart details the allocations of the exchanges budget for FY 2010 (with FY 08 and 09 comparisons). Also download the chart in Excel format.
A press release from the Senate Appropriations Committee indicates that its FY 2010 State-Foreign Operations spending bill provides $635.2 million for State Department educational and cultural exchange programs, $2.2 million above the President’s request of $633 million, $35.2 million above the recently passed House level of $600 million, and $97.2 million above the FY 2009 level of $538 million. The Committee also recommends $8 million for competitive, one-time grants for exchanges.
The House passed its FY 2010 State-Foreign Operations spending bill yesterday by a vote of 318-106. The bill provides $48.8 billion for the State Department, foreign aid, and export assistance, including $600 million for educational and cultural exchange programs.
Also yesterday, the Senate Appropriations Committee took the first step with its own FY 2010 spending bill for State and Foreign Operations, approving by a 29-1 vote a measure that would provide $48.7 billion in discretionary funding.
At the same time the House goes to the floor today to pass its version of the State-Foreign Operations spending bill (in which educational and cultural exchanges are funded at $600 million, $33 million less than the Obama administration’s request but a $62 million increase over current levels), the Senate Appropriations Committee will begin work on its own State-Foreign Operations bill. Senators will seek to increase funding for diplomacy and the Foreign Service, “even as overall funding for foreign affairs takes a hit,” reports CQ.com: